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'The Presidents Blog'

SNU President Minister David Bruton

NEC Meeting - Friday 1st August to Sunday 3rd August 2014


The President's Blog was established with the aim of keeping members fully updated about the work of the National Executive Committee (NEC) and developments which affect the Union and the wider movement.

Much of the work of the NEC is by its very nature confidential but every effort will be made to keep members up to date where appropriate.



Following the resignation of Minister Steven Upton at the AGM, when members failed to pass Motion 1 allowing Trustees to be paid for goods and services, the NEC reviewed its position during its meeting last weekend.


Byelaws A20(1) clearly states that “a vacancy in the office of President, Vice-President or Financial Director shall be filled either by co-option or election of a qualified person or may remain unfilled if a period of less than three months remains of the term of office.”


Accepting that Minister Upton was about to enter the second year of his two-year term and the fact that if an election were to be instigated immediately the new incumbent would not take office until late October it was decided to co-opt a person to this position.


As such, I am delighted to announce the appointment of Chris James CSNU to the position of Vice-President (Administrative). Chris has worked very closely with head office in his role as Chairman of IT and his systems understanding will, I am sure, greatly assist him in his new role. Chris will retain responsibility for Information Technology.


I am also pleased to announce that the NEC has made two further appointments of Ordinary Members:-


Ordinary Member 1 - Mr Des Collett from the Manchester District. Des will undertake the role previously allocated to Minister June English for Churches under supervision.

Ordinary Member 2 - Minister Alan Rawnsley from the North Yorkshire District. Alan will take up a new role on the NEC with special responsibility for supporting Churches in need of practical help, support and advice, he will also take over responsibility for the Pioneer Centres.


I can confirm that the Union has completed due diligence on both new members of the NEC and both have signed the Pecuniary Interest declaration which is now required of all trustees.


General Secretary
Charles Coulston has informed the NEC of his intention to retire as General Secretary in April 2015. He will continue working for the Union as a consultant to support Shirley McGee, the Chief Administrative Officer, who will take on the General Secretary's role. Charles has given the Union unstinting service and loyalty to the Union for over thirty years and he is held in the very highest esteem by both members of the NEC and by members in general.


A new member of the team at Redwoods
Anne Moldon has recently joined the team at Redwoods to take on the role of Accounts Assistant. The Union has long relied on the SNU Trust for many of its accounts functions and it is felt that we really need to bring more of this work back in-house. Anne will also take responsibility in time for the SNUi back office and also provide support to the Trust Property Co-ordinator. I would like on behalf of the NEC to welcome Anne to the team; we look forward to working with her in the future.


Standing Committees:
Accreditation: Minister June English.
Responsible for Training & Awards, Education, Healing and the Registrations Office and SNUi.
Communications: Tim Smith.
Responsible for Publicity & Promotions, Design and Print and Public Relations.


Chairman: Julia Almond
Vice-Chair: Minister David Bruton
Secretary: Shirley McGee
Committee members: Minister Judith Seaman, Chris James, Carol Haikney
Staff: Graham Hewitt, Shirley McGee, Charles Coulston, Anne Daultrey, Lesley Gilbey


General Purposes
Chairman: Tony Penketh
Vice-Chair: Judith Seaman
Secretary: Charles Coulston
Committee members: Derek Pipe.
Staff: Shirley McGee


Ministers Administration
Chairman: Minister Judith Seaman
Vice-Chair: Minister Tom Haver
Secretary: Janette Cookson OSNU
Committee members: Minister June English, Minister Janet Parker


Arthur Findlay College
Chairman: Julia Almond OSNU
Vice-Chair: Minister David Bruton
Committee members: Minister Judith Seaman, Minister Simone Key, Sandie Baker CSNU and General Manager Tanya Smith


Arthur Findlay Centre
Chairman: Julia Almond OSNU
Vice-Chair: Minister David Bruton
Secretary: Christine Thompson CSNU
Committee members: Minister Myrrha Hibbert, Karen Line-Jones, Lynn Parker, Angela Clarke and General Manager Seamus Davies


Chairman: Ilona Mulock Houwer
Vice-Chair: Minister Steven Upton
Secretary: Yoshie Miakoda-Chihara CSNU
Committee members: Arthur Plumpton DSNU, Fredrik Haglund
Representative to Council: Ilona Mulock Houwer


Chairman: Jackie Wright DSNU
Vice-Chair: Minister Brian Robertson
Secretary: Christine Thompson
Committee members: Pat Seymour
Consultant: Jane Barton


Training & Awards
Chairman: Minister Carol Ellis
Vice-Chair: Pauline Silver DSNU
Secretary: Ann Armstrong
Committee members: Minister Jenny Peacock, Linda Walker CSNU


Chairman: Andrej Djordjevitch DSNU
Vice-Chair: Mark Bradley CSNU
Secretary: Sue Tabrett DSNU
Committee members: Hazel Ballard DSNU


Publicity & Promotions
Chairman: Penny Hayward
Vice-Chair: Alv Hirst (Youth Ambassador)
Secretary: Andrew Manship
Committee members: Joy Clarke, Shelley Youell, Jacky Ellis
International consultants: Martha Chick (Canada), Thomas Regenauer (USA)


Information Technology
Chairman: Chris James CSNU
Vice-Chair: Mark Pattison
Secretary: Joyce Pasley
Committee members: Michael Flood (Rep to SNUi)


Philosophy & Ethics
Chairman: Tony Penketh
Vice-Chair: Minister Norah Shaw
Secretary: Stella Upton OSNU
Committee members: Minister Bob Kitching


Arbitration Committee
Chairman: Derek Pipe
Vice-Chair: Minister Marian Bishop
Secretary: Gillian Grimson


Other appointments:
Adjudication Co-ordinator: Minister Tom Haver
Examiner: Gail Riding
Deputy Examiner: Laraine Killarney
Interfaith Ambassador: Minister David Hopkins
Youth Ambassador: Alv Hirst
Public Relations Officer: Minister Steven Upton
Chaplain to Armed Forces: Minister Steven Upton
Chaplain to HM Prisons: Minister Steven Upton
Almoner: Minister Marian Bishop
Principal, Arthur Findlay College and Centre: Minister David Bruton
National Safeguarding Coordinator: Minister Tony Penketh
Deputy Safeguarding Coordinator: Minister June English


Future Meetings of the National Executive Committee
Meeting Dates:
10th -12th October 2014
5th - 7th December 2014
13th - 15th February 2015
10th -12th April 2015
13th - 14th June 2015
9th - 11th October 2015
4th - 6th December 2015


Reporting Dates:
24th September 2014
19th November 2014
28th January 2015
25th March 2015
27th May 2015
23rd September 2015
18th November 2015


Future Meetings of the Council
4th October 2014
It was agreed, following the likely changes to Council since the failure of Motion 1, to reschedule the Council meeting to Saturday 1st November at the Arthur Findlay Centre. It is proposed to hold the February 2015 Council meeting at Sheffield Attercliffe Church in line with the wish of Councillors to move one meeting per year out into the Districts.


7th February 2015 at Sheffield Attercliffe Church
3rd October 2015 at the Arthur Findlay Centre


AGM 2015
The 2015 AGM is to be held at the Marriott Hotel in Newcastle on 18th and 19th July.


Rules for Churches 2014
The new edition of the Rules for Churches has been printed and was on sale at the AGM; an A4 edition will be produced and posted to the Churches in the next seven days for display on the Church notice-board, together with an order form for Churches that require additional copies, which are available from Redwoods. Churches are reminded of the requirement of the new Rules to provide copies for each member of the Committee and to make them available on request to members. An electronic version is also available within MySNU on the Website. Application has been made to the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator for its approval to the new edition and the Scottish edition for our Churches north of the border will be available shortly.


Interfaith Week
The NEC are very aware that with the impending approval of our application for membership of the National Interfaith Network the Union should make a positive contribution by organising an event during Interfaith Week 2014, which is due to take place the week commencing Monday 17th November 2014. It was agreed to hold an Interfaith Festival in the Sanctuary at Stansted Hall on Thursday 20th November; the service will be jointly organised by the Interfaith Ambassador and the President and invitations will go to leading figures from other faith groups from the Stansted, Bishop Stortford area and will be open to Union members. Further details will be available shortly.


Arthur Findlay College and Centre on the Road
A first event is to be held at Croydon Church on Saturday 20th September, supported by College tutors, the Principal and the General Manager of the Arthur Findlay College. This event will be used to create a viable model to be applied for future events both in the UK and Europe in 2015. The programme for the day will include lectures, workshops, private readings and demonstrations in an attempt to reflect the work of both the College and the Centre. Tickets for the event are available from both the Church and the Arthur Findlay College. Marketing material has been provided to all Churches in the East and West London District Councils.


Meet the NEC
Following the success of this initiative two years ago, it has been agreed to arrange a day’s visit to each District Council by the end of 2015. A full-day programme is proposed, starting with meeting the District Council Executive Committee during the morning, an open forum available to all Churches and members within the District in the afternoon to launch the ‘Spirit in Action’ initiative, and an evening fundraising event, which will not be the normal ‘Evening of Mediumship’. It is hoped to raise funds on behalf of the District to create some seed capital towards promoting and taking part in the ‘Union’s Big Year 2018’. Again, further details will be available shortly and a dialogue will be opened with each District Council with a view to finding mutually acceptable dates. It is not envisaged that all members of the NEC will attend each meeting but it is hoped to include at least two Officers at each meeting and other representatives, taking account of busy schedules and commitments.


AGM 2014
Following the failure of Motion 1 at the AGM and the impact this will have on the Union the NEC has agreed to take advice on our current Articles and Memorandum. Our solicitors advised some time ago that our current format is now well out of date and no longer complies with the needs of a modern charity or company limited by guarantee. The General Purposes Committee and the NEC will consider the feasibility of refreshing the Memorandum and this will of course be placed before members for their consideration and approval. As a direct result of Motion 1 all members of the NEC have now cancelled all of their teaching engagements at the Arthur Findlay College, the Arthur Findlay Centre and the Pioneer Centres and no further service fees will be paid to the Officers for conducting official services on behalf of the Union. The wider implications have also been communicated to members of the Council and each member will have to decide to either continue teaching within the Union or to withdraw from their respective position on the Council. We estimate that this could directly affect six members of the Council, hence the need to defer the next scheduled meeting to allow districts time to appoint any necessary replacements.


Ordinary Member 2
Following the appointment of Minister Alan Rawnsley to the position of Ordinary Member 2 it was agreed that Alan would work to develop his role, which is intended to be to help and support Churches who are having difficulties. Alan will develop a practical toolkit which will provide a range of services to include advice, ideas, resources and support. This is meant to provide a very different approach from Church supervision, which remains under Ordinary Member 1. Alan will develop a pilot scheme, which will generate a feasibility study before a view is taken on rolling out this programme nationally. The NEC are well aware that many Churches are struggling for a range of reasons, so this is an attempt by the Union to provide added support to the Churches with a view to developing them and helping them to be fit for purpose in the 21st century. Alan has a strong background in fundraising and worked for a while with Age Concern as a National Fundraiser.


Leased Line
Work is now underway to install a new fibre-optic line to the offices at Redwoods, which will provide greatly enhanced data transfer speeds and internet access to head office and the whole Stansted estate. This is considered crucial to support our IT policy for the future.


PR Prohibition
As we draw to the close of our first six-month contract with our PR Company from Leeds the NEC has considered the achievements to date and reviewed the key performance indicators established at the beginning of the contract. The Officers are due shortly to open negotiations to review our future options in regard to the Union's PR.


World Congress
The first World Congress of Spiritualists was held at Lily Dale, USA in June this year. The three-day event proved to be highly successful and was well attended by Spiritualists from around the globe. It has been agreed to establish a World Council to progress the Congress's key objectives and a website has been established to support this process. If all goes to plan the next World Congress will take place at Stansted Hall in July 2018, which will form part of 'Our Big Year' celebrations here in the UK.


Gordon Higginson Memorial Scholarship
At the AGM the four successful candidates were awarded their certificates and their training will get underway shortly under the mentorship of minister Colin Bates. The four students are: Anne Marie Bond; Christopher Jenkins; Karen McCagh and Daniel Robinson.


500 Club
Any member or Church or non-member wishing to join the scheme with a chance to win some excellent prizes should contact Claire Shores at the Members Service Centre. The odds of winning a prize are 14 to 1, which is better than the National Lottery.


Have your say - As part of an ongoing policy of openness the NEC would welcome your views: please feel free to email your comments to me:



Thought for the day:

 “The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

-Winston Churchill



  - Minister David Bruton



If you have any question for the SNU President please email: